Student record

Enrollment surge, delays spark concerns among students over general housing lottery – The Williams Record

This year, more than 140 students applied for 33 HC positions. (Photo courtesy of Annie Gustafson.)

The General Housing Lottery has been delayed — first from May 3 to May 5, and now indefinitely — according to two recent emails from all campuses from the Office of Campus Life (OCL). The postponement is the result of an “unexpected increase” in the number of students accepting places in the class of 2026, according to the May 3 email from the OCL.

“The General Lottery has been postponed out of an abundance of caution,” Residential Life and Housing Director Patricia Leahey-Hayes wrote in an email to Record. “With the additional students in the incoming class, we wanted to take the extra time to ensure that if a building’s use was to be moved from use for upperclass students to freshmen, we knew that now and we were adjusting accordingly.”

The college is striving to accommodate a larger expected student population

Behind the scenes, OCL – in conjunction with the Office of Accessible Education (OAE), Dean’s Office, Admissions and Facilities – is working on a plan to ensure adequate housing for all students next year, according to College Dean Marlene Sandstrom.

“There is a big meeting of all campus partners doing housing-related work on Wednesday [May 11]”, Sandstrom said in an interview with the Record. “We hope to have a fairly firm plan in place by the end of the week.”

The source of the upheaval, according to Leahey-Hayes, was a sudden fluctuation in the school’s performance for the class of 2026, which had remained stable — and within expected limits — until a significant increase in student acceptances on the 1st. May, which was prospective. last chance for students to accept their offer of admission.

“Our admissions program, like all of its peers, uses extended data and modeling to determine how many offers to expand to generate a new class of students,” Sandstrom wrote. “Our models have performed extraordinarily well over the years… [but] as predictive models, they are not 100% perfect. »

Dean of Admissions Liz Creighton ’01 noted that the College’s recent financial aid program change was one factor among others that may have affected rates of return.

Due to last-minute increases in accepted admission offers in the Class of 2026, the number of incoming first-years currently stands at around 600, according to Sandstrom. She noted that number is expected to drop to around 580 by fall as students choose to take gap years or receive offers of admission on other institutions’ waiting lists.

The Class of 2026 is expected to be about the same size as the Class of 2025 — a cohort whose unprecedented size likely contributed to housing and dining charges through the fall. Total enrollment for the 2022-23 school year will likely be slightly higher than 2021-22, assuming the OCL estimate is true.

Amid general lottery anxieties, students are increasingly relying on alternatives

Over the past two years, there have been multiple delays and complications in the general lottery process, coinciding with an increase in the number of students seeking alternatives to the general housing lottery. According to Leahey-Hayes, for the 2022-23 school year, 422 places (approximately 30% of beds) were occupied by various housing alternatives such as TAPSI, housing, HCs and their respective pull-ins before the general lottery .

In February, LOC received more than 140 applications for 33 Housing Coordinator (HC) positions – a modest increase over recent years, but significantly higher than the annual average of 70 applications received previously.

Greer Ingoe Gerney ’25, who will be HC next year, first considered applying for HC because she thought the role would be a good leadership position and wanted to be more involved in the development of the community. Part of her decision to apply, however, was influenced by the security of accommodation offered by the position, she said.

“I found out about the benefits of housing to getting single and being able to attract your friends, and I had heard about the mess that was going on in housing last year,” she said. “So that had some impact on my decision to apply, although I think I would have applied for other reasons in the end.”

Along with the record number of HC applications, the College has also seen an increase in housing applications. This year, 274 students applied for housing — more than double the number who applied for the 2021-2022 school year — according to Leahey-Hayes.

Of the 274 accommodation requests, 197 were submitted for disability, medical and physical reasons through the OAE, Deputy Director of Accessible Education Ky Gerbush said. Record. This represents a significant increase from the 125 applications received in 2021 and 45 applications in 2020, said Deputy Director of Accessible Education Ky Gerbush. Record. The remaining 77 accommodation requests were requested for Title IX, logistical or unspecified reasons that are processed outside of EAO.

Gerbush said student uncertainty about the housing lottery accounted for a large part of the increase in housing applications. “Coming out of COVID, as we have over-enrollment and a lot of student anxiety about going back to accommodation and not knowing what it would be like, I think that raised our [accommodation request] numbers,” Gerbush said.

Gerbush pointed out that the increase in housing requests was not because students were taking advantage of the system, but because of a real need. “I think part of this larger narrative about abuse of the system is because people at Williams feel really uncomfortable talking to their peers about disabilities…and the needs they have” , she said. “I don’t think there is any abuse of the HART system at this time. I just think it’s really, really hard to be a college student.

Gerney echoed Gerbush’s sentiments about the housing system contributing to the stressors of college life.

“I think housing is such a stressful thing, but it seems like the administration doesn’t think it should be a stressful thing for us, even though it’s such a big part of our time at Williams,” she said. “Where you live matters and it matters whether you live with your friends or live alone. It’s something people care about — and it should matter to the Order.

Students report lack of knowledge about lottery schedule, room availability

Hours before the start of the already delayed housing lottery on May 5, OCL announced that the lottery would be postponed again. This time, the students were not given an expected start date. Instead, OCL wrote that it was a “top priority” for them to hold the lottery before the finals and that they hoped to post an update on the schedule by the next day. At the time of publication, no tracking has been sent.

The sudden nature of the postponement announcements, along with the lack of follow-up, caused confusion and rumors among the student body. “I think in general housing should just get better as it goes, but it looks like for a lot of people it’s going to get worse,” Gerney said of student speculation about potential housing changes. . “It looks like there will be trebles and people who had doubles in the first year will most likely have doubles in the second year. It looks like even the juniors are going to struggle in certain situations.

Other students also noted the lack of information from the College. Taylor Braswell ’23 and Sarah Dean ’23, the co-chairs of this year’s JA class and next year’s Junior Advisor Advisory Board (JAAB), said the JAAB had not received any communications from the administration regarding their freshman housing projects next year.

Annie Gustafson ’24, who will be HC next year, noted that the uncertainty and confusion was likely the result of external factors. “There are a lot of things that are beyond the College’s control, like performance and enrollment numbers for freshmen,” Gustafson said. “That may be the current housing situation at the College.”

Flexible doubles and other room usage changes

Sandstrom pointed out that the College has more than enough housing to handle the expected increase in enrollment. “We have enough beds to accommodate all students, including a slightly larger class,” she said. “We like to have buffer space.”

While the housing supply remains sufficient to house all undergraduate students, student concerns persist about the quality of housing. Current upperclass students lived on campus for relatively lower levels of enrollment, and all lived as bachelors in the 2020-2021 school year. Today, many students believe that the high enrollment for the Class of 2025 and the Class of 2026 should affect the number of single rooms available, which many students consider more desirable.

In order to accommodate more upperclass students next year, the OCL announced in an email on February 21 that the number of flexible double rooms – rooms large enough to be doubles but serving as singles if space permitting – would increase from 45 to 120, reducing the number of singles on campus.

However, Sandstrom said while she hopes flexible doubles can be converted back to singles in the coming years, the College is not prioritizing an increase in the number of dedicated singles. “Williams has historically had far more singles than any of our peer institutions,” Sandstrom said. “I don’t think we’re looking to increase the number of singles beyond what they traditionally were… But if we can get back to using flexible spaces in singles rather than doubles – hopefully we will be able to do some of this after overcoming COVID-related asymmetries in class sizes.